Written by:  Steven Fraser B App Sc, B Ed St
Proofing by:  Yvonne Hill OAM EFIAP/b

Note: Image editing terms are mostly not covered here. The term explanations have also intentionally been made as brief, and as less technical as possible; to better suit beginner photographers.





a - b - c - d - e - f - g - h - i - j - k - l - m - n - o - p - q - r - s - t - u - v - x - y - z





An optical problem in a camera lens that produces slight errors in subject appearance, most noticeable in the small details of an image

Abstract Image

An image with blends of colour, texture, shape, form or light to create a design patterned image. Note that this definition can be varied.


Adobe Camera Raw = Adobe software to process and edit any Raw file

Active AF

An autofocus system using a beam of typically semi infra-red light to assist to measure distances to focus a lens

Adjustment (Global/ Local)

An image editing step for either all of, or only a selected part of an image

A Mount

The lens mount system intended for Sony DSLR cameras

Adaptive D- Lighting

A Nikon camera body setting where for JPEG images the in camera software tries to protect possible under exposed shadows

Adaptor Ring

A lens mount component to allow one brand of lens to fit onto another brand of camera body or a DSLR lens to fit to a ML body of the same brand


The company that created digital imaging software like Photoshop, Lightroom, etc

Adobe RGB

A grouping of colours that makes one kind of colour space

AI Servo Mode

A focusing setting on many Canon cameras that will attempt to keep focus on a moving subject


The software coding for a specific processing task

Ambient Lighting

Lighting present on the subject without additional lighting being added

Analogous Colours

Three colours next to each other on a full colour wheel, composed of one dominant colour (usually a primary or secondary colour), then a supporting colour (a secondary or tertiary colour), and a third colour that is either a mix of the two first colours, or an accent colour

Angle of View

The number of degrees of sight given by a specific focal length of a lens


A form of image distortion that occurs when two elements of the light signals from some subjects, being processed to form the digital image, become indistinguishable from one another

Anti-Aliasing (AA) Filter

Also called an Optical Low Pass Filter. Most camera sensors have an AA filter to blur the image just a bit before the sensor captures it; helping to reduce aliasing and moiré; from subjects with striped patterns, etc


The opening in the lens that restricts how much light reaches the image sensor

Aperture Priority Mode

A semiauto exposure camera setting where the intended aperture is set and the camera then selects the required shutter speed; given also a set ISO


The Australian Photographic Society


Refers to the size of the sensor used in some digital cameras, measuring approx 22.5 x 15 mm; ie with a 3:2 aspect ratio. The name derives from the defunct APS (Advanced Photo System) film format, used in its Classic (C) aspect ratio. Some also call this sized sensor a ‘cropped’ sensor.


Abbreviation of apochromatic. This is used, for example, to describe Sigma lenses that use super-low dispersion (SLD) len’s elements to reduce chromatic aberration.

Architectural Photography

Images of buildings, interiors, ruins, bridges or anything where man-made structures are the principle interest. Note that this definition can be varied.

Art Series Lenses

The highest quality range of lenses made by Sigma


Flaws in an image caused by limitations in the recording or manipulation process

Artificial Light

Man-made light

Aspect Ratio

The relationship between the width and height of a picture, which describe the proportions of an image format or a photograph eg 3:2, 4:3, 16:9, etc

Auto Bracketing

A camera setting where usually the aperture and ISO stay the same but the shutter speed is set to change by often 3 or 5, etc different exposure stops

Auto Exposure (AE)

A camera setting where the lighting on a scene is automatically determined. Also referred to as Auto Light Metering.

AE Lock (AEL)

A camera setting where the subject’s lighting is measured and set; even though the scene’s brightness may change

Autofocus (AF)

The camera automatically sets the correct focus for a set point or zone

Autofocus Illuminator

A light source from the camera body or a flash that is projected onto the subject, to aid the camera to find focus

AF Lock

A camera setting where the subject’s focus is measured and set; even though the subject’s or camera’s position may then change

Auto Tubes

Extension tubes that have electronic contacts between the camera body and the lens

Auto Lighting Optimizer

A Canon camera body setting where for JPEG images the in camera software tries to protect possible under exposed shadows

Av Mode

A semi-auto camera light metering setting where the user sets the len’s aperture (with a set ISO) and the camera’s light meter then determines the required shutter speed for a correct exposure




Back Button Focusing

Using a control on the back of the camera body to set the focus. This button is separate to the shutter release control.


Typically an added component of an image eg a screen, rolled paper, etc that better sets of the main subject matter

Back Focusing

When a lens supposedly correctly focused is actually focusing slightly behind the intended focus point

Back Lit

When there is strong lighting coming from near to behind the subject


Copying digital image files to another digital storage device

Ball Head

A tripod component that can be adjusted to allow rotation up or down or sideways with only one fixture


A long established New York City retail camera store with an excellent website and mail order department reputation

Barrel Distortion

A len’s aberration that causes straight edges to bow outwards, giving a barrel-like image appearance. This type of distortion is commonly seen with wide angle lenses.


Hinged panels on the 4 sides of a light source to control the light output


A fixture that screws into the base of a camera body so that the fixture can then be attached to a tripod head

Batch Processing

Using image editing software to work with a group of digital files to achieve a common result

Bean Bag Support

A small cloth bag typically filled with polystyrene balls or rice, etc that can support a camera for slow shutter exposures


A concertina type extension between a camera body and a lens. This is used for up close focusing.


Bird(s) In Flight photography


The smallest unit of digital information used by a computer or digital camera

Bit Depth

The number of bits used to represent each pixel in a digital image. This figure defines the image colour or tone range eg 8 bit depth files have 255 possible tones.


Flashing symbolism that can be set on a camera’s LCD screen to show areas that are over and / or under exposed

Blown Out

An image part that has over exposed highlights

Blue Hours

The times early in the morning before sunrise and in the early evening after sunset


As in a camera body


Out of focus highlights that are pleasing to the eye

Bounce Flash / Fill

Typically light from a flash gun that has been bounced off a ceiling, etc to give softer light of a strength less than the ambient light


Taking multiple exposures of the same subject with the same aperture and ISO but varying the shutter speed

Bridge Camera

A camera with a fixed lens that usually has a large zoom range


The intensity of light

Bulb Shutter Release (B)

A camera setting where the shutter is opened and is kept open while the shutter switch is typically kept depressed

Buffer Memory

The digital storage capacity of the camera’s internal software separate to the camera’s storage card(s)


An image manipulation step that allows selective darkening

Burst Mode / Rate

A camera setting that allows multiple sequential images to be taken. The size of image files being recorded, the camera’s buffer memory and card write speed then determines how long that this can continue.

Butterfly Lighting

A portrait lighting pattern where the key light is placed above and directly cantered with a subject's face. This creates a shadow under the nose that resembles a butterfly’s wings.


A group of binary digits or bits (usually eight) operated on as a unit. A byte is thus considered as a unit of memory size.




Cable Release

A shutter release attachment that is typically now fully electronic


A process to have a uniform colour management system between a camera, a display monitor and a printer

Camera Shake

The movement of a camera and lens due to too slow a shutter speed in use

Cam Locks

A fixture on tripod legs to tighten a leg extension


An image of a person(s) that appears to be spontaneous and the sitter not being aware of the image capture

Capture Format

The type of file eg JPEG or Raw, or the image proportions, or the vertical nature of the image being created in the camera

Card Reader

A device outside of a camera to hold a memory card, that can be connected to a computer to transfer image files

Catch Light(s)

Reflections in the eye(s) from ambient or artificial light sources


A digital file management system that uses key words to describe all images


Charge Coupled Device = the components of an image sensor that captures the light to create an electrical signal. Now mostly replaced with CMOS = Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor technology.

Centre Of Interest

Something in the image composition that is usually well in focus and that draws the viewer’s eyes to that part of the scene

Centre Weighted Light Metering

A camera system where the image exposure is mostly determined from the middle parts of the intended scene

CF Card

A Compact Flash image portable storage device used in a camera

CF Express Card

A type of CF card with a higher rate of image data transfer


The components of a specific colour space, eg RGB is made up of the three channels of red, green and blue; etc


The intentional use of strong contrasts between the light and dark areas of an image eg when shafts of light illuminate a dark scene


Continually looking at a camera’s rear LCD screen while taking images

Chromatic Aberrations

An optical problem in lenses where colours are not focused on the same convergence point in the focal plane. The image then shows fringes of different wavelength colours around the edges where bright and dark sections meet.


Refers to video capture imagery

Circular Polariser

The most common modern type of front filter polariser used to aid the elimination of reflections from surfaces being photographed (ref Linear)


The image histogram has highlight and or shadows that are beyond the sensor’s capacity to show detail in those zones

Clone Out

An image editing process where visual imperfections can be removed by copying other image areas over into those spots

Closed Down

Changing the len’s aperture to let less light in

Close-up Filter

An optical lens element that is screwed onto the front of another lens to increase the magnification of the subsequent image. Not really a filter at all.


A printing process that uses only 4 colours cyan, magenta, yellow and black. This relies on the subtractive colour model, not the additive model of RGB light radiation.

Cokin Type Filters

Rectangular sheets, usually of plastic but may be of glass that slide into a holder that attaches to the front of a lens. The sheets can be coloured or act as neutral density filters. Cokin and Lee are 2 of the main brands.

Colour Balance

The global adjustment of the intensities of the 3 primary colours to render specific colours, particularly neutral colours, correctly

Colour Calibration

A process to have a uniform colour management system between a camera, a display monitor and a printer. This typically involves an accessory device that can be attached to the display of a monitor.

Colour Cast

A change of colour tone that appears unnatural or not pleasing to the eye

Colour Channels

White light is a mixture of red, green and blue components. These three primary colours make up the three channels that can be managed when editing a digital image

Colour Checker

A printed device that shows a rainbow of colours and also a range of grey tones that is used to help colour manage a display monitor and or printer

Colour Fringing

Unnatural coloured edges seen around the edges of an image that are the result of optical or sensor limitations or inappropriate editing

Colour Management

A process to have a uniform colour management system between a camera, a display monitor and a printer.

Colour Monkey

A brand of colour management device that attaches to the front of a display monitor to assist in colour management. Spyder and X-Rite are two other similar brands.

Colour Profile / ICC

The International Colour Consortium set software that can be used to ensure uniform colours when digitally printing

Colour Saturation

The colour intensity of an image

Colour Space

Various mathematical models describing the way colours can be digitally represented. sRGB, Adobe RGB and ProPhoto are 3 common examples. Most monitors and printing medium however limit seeing all possible colours.

Colour Temperature (Kelvin)

A scale used to describe the way various light temperatures appear visually. It is measured in degrees on a Kelvin Scale (K) and for visible light typically ranges from 2000 – 6500 K

Colour Theory

As applied to mixing / adding light (not pigments) combinations of RGB light radiation that can create a photographic colour wheel

Colour Triads

A colour scheme comprised of three colours, evenly spaced on the colour wheel

Colour Tone

A representation of a colour's brightness

Colour Wheel

A spectrum of visible radiation colours arranged in a 360 degree presentation. Note that mixed pigments have different terminology.


The look of an image as made up from possible image elements

Composite Image

An image that has been created by using 2 or more other images with varying parts combined

Complementary Colours

Pairs of colours opposite one another on the colour wheel. Also called opposite colours.

Compression Level

Typically applied to the creation of JPEG format images where the size of the final image file can be changed / decreased

Computational Photography

An image made in camera typically from multiple photos taken at approx the same time at different exposures or focal lengths

Consumer Lens

A more basic, lower value lens often sold as part of camera body + lens package

Continuous Shooting Mode

A camera setting where the shutter keeps opening and closing as long as the shutter button is kept depressed to create multiple images


The visual ratio of different tones in an image

Contrast Range

The range of dark to light tones in an image. On a combined RGB histogram this could be from 0 = pure black to 255 = pure white.

Converging Verticals

The presence of intended vertical image elements eg building walls, etc that are bending inwards


An image that is taken into a bright light source

Cool Image Tone

An image that appears bluer in tone


Central Processing Unit = the data processing chip used in a digital device


An informed appraisal of an image(s)


Changing the image size proportions eg from 3:2, etc to improve the composition

Crop Sensor

A camera sensor that is smaller in size than a traditional 35 mm film negative dimensions = 24 mm x 36 mm

Crop Factor

A measure of how much smaller a camera sensor is compared to a full frame sensor and therefore how much larger the image appears

Cross Type Focus Sensors

A horizontal line sensor and a vertical line sensor at the same AF point; meaning that focus point is able to detect contrast / lines in both orientations





Digitally managed information

Dead Pixels

Small bright spots that can appear on an image because of a failure of very small parts of a camera sensor

Decentred Lens

A lens that cannot maintain focus across the whole image circle and often has its sharpest focus away from the centre of the lens / image

Decisive Moment

A very brief period of time when a subject (usually a human) is doing something visually interesting

Dedicated Flash

A light flash producing device that has electronic pins / circuitry that communicates in detail with a specific camera body

Depth of Field


The distance between the nearest and furthest parts of a subject that is acceptably sharp. As sensors and lenses have improved in quality, the meaning of acceptably sharp is now more often debated.

Depth of Field Preview

A camera control that when pressed closes down the len’s aperture to the intended setting so that the resulting DOF can be seen

Depth of Field Scale

Lines that used to be marked on lenses that gave an indication of the DOF at several different lens apertures; but now rarely seen on modern lenses


The mechanical part of a lens that controls the len’s aperture


An optical effect which can soften images and make them less sharp especially at small apertures eg f 16, etc. The size of the sensor being used, the focal length of the lens and the quality of the lens affect this.

Diffractive Optic (DO) Lenses

Telephoto lenses that are lighter and more compact while maintaining a high level of performance. Made by bonding a precise diffraction grating onto the surface of a glass lens.


A translucent material that only lets some light through it

Diffuse Light

A lighting source that does not produce sharp shadows

Digital File

A data file that is made to record an image

Digital Zoom

A camera / lens system that can have an apparent more magnified image view by cropping / enlarging the actual sensor image

Dioptre Eyepiece Correction

A lens system at the eyepiece / viewfinder of a camera that can be adjusted to compensate for the long / short sightedness of the user


A display of two related images

Direct Flash

Lighting directed straight forward from a flash unit mounted on a camera


Image degradation (barrel, pincushion, etc) that is often not helpful

Documentary Photography

A style of image creation that provides a straightforward and accurate representation of people, places, objects or events; and as such is often used in reportage. Note that this definition can be varied.


An image manipulation step that allows selective brightening


Adobe’s default Raw file format

DPI / dpi

Dots Per Inch which is a measure of printing quality eg 300 DPI, etc


Digital Photo Professional software from Canon for image editing eg from Raw files, etc


A website that has very detailed technical updates and user forums on Digital Photography

Dry Pack / Sac

A photographic gear hold all that is designed to be near water proof

Dynamic Range / DR

The difference in Exposure Values = Stops between the darkest and lightest tones in an image; though it can also refer to the maximum range of tones (again in EVs) that a camera sensor can record


A Digital Single Lens Reflex camera body that has a penta lens or mirror as part of its image focusing system. DSLR preferred lenses also then apply.

Double Matted

A print that is displayed under two raised cardboard cut-outs

Dust Spots

Unintended blemishes on a digital file that typically come from dust on the image sensor. These are also called ‘dust bunnies’.

Duo Tone

An image created by using the superimposition of one contrasting colour over another colour

Down Sizing

To decrease the image resolution in PPI

Dual Pixel CMOS AF

Canon ML body technology that uses every pixel on the imaging sensor to detect focus; so that faster focusing is possible

DX Mount

A Nikon lens mount system for APS-C DSLR camera bodies




E Mount

A Sony lens mount system for camera bodies, with the FE mount used for full frame sensors

Edge Patrol

Making the effort to look carefully around the perimeter of a digital image for distracting image components before it is to be printed / displayed; to then remove these features


Manipulating or deleting a digital image file

Effective Lens Focal Length

The apparent magnified effect seen when a lens of a defined length(s) is used on a non full frame sensor camera

E Mount

The lens mount system used for Sony mirrorless cameras

EF Mount

The lens mount system used for full frame Canon DSLR cameras

EF-EOSR Adaptor

A DSLR lens to mirrorless body adaptor for Canon R series camera bodies

EF-S Mount

The lens mount system used for crop sensor frame, Canon DSLR cameras

Environmental Portrait

A photo taken of a person in a place that says something about who they are. Note that this definition can be varied.

EVF = Electronic View Finder

A camera eyepiece view created not by an optical lens / mirror system. Typically used in Mirrorless (ML) cameras.

Evaluative Metering

An automatic camera light exposure setting where the average scene brightness is measured across multiple zones of the subject’s lighting

Experimental Images

Images created in camera or by post-processing in a non-traditional way. Such images are an attempt to make unique presentations.


EXchangeable Image File format is a standard that specifies the background data for image files eg date, time, camera settings, etc used by digital cameras

Expose To The Right

Intentionally adjusting an image exposure at the time of image capture so that the combined histogram’s right edge is just touching the 255 tone point


Adjusting the shutter speed and aperture (at a set ISO) to control the amount of light being received by sensor. This can also be adjusted in post-production.

Exposure Blending

Combining in post-production two or more images taken with the same aperture but with different shutter speeds ie using under exposed and over exposed image files

Exposure Bracketing

When taking multiple images, a group of the same scene is created at a constant aperture but with different shutter speeds ie under exposed to over exposed images

Exposure Compensation

Intentionally adding or removing an EV, or more, to the cameras initially intended exposure

Exposure Mode

A camera setting where the user selects what combinations of aperture, shutter speed and ISO are prioritised to make an exposure

Exposure Stop = Exposure Value (EV)

A doubling or halving of the amount of light let in when taking a photo. Eg by halving or doubling the shutter speed or adjusting the aperture by one full step along the 2, 2.8, 4, 5.6, 8, 11, 16, etc diaphragm range.

Exposure Triangle

A visual way of associating the three variables that determine the exposure of a photograph: aperture, shutter speed and ISO. All three of these must be balanced to achieve a desired image brightness result.


A lens system accessory used between the camera body and a lens to increase the len’s focal length. Also called a tele-converter.

Extension Tube(s)

A non lens, mechanical spacer system used between the camera body and a lens to decrease the len’s minimum focus distance

Eyepiece Cup

The part of a camera viewfinder that the user directly looks through. An accessory rubber shroud may also be used here to aid viewing.

Eyepiece Dioptre

A lens system at the eyepiece viewfinder of a camera that can be adjusted to compensate for the long / short sightedness of the user




F Mount

A Nikon lens mount system for full frame DSLR bodies

Face Detection

An auto focusing system in a camera that has been programmed to try to find a face of an animal in the scene and to then focus on the eyes

Fast ISO

A high ISO setting that allows a maximum of light amplification

Fast Lens

A lens with a wide maximum aperture

Fast Shutter Speed

A very high shutter speed often designed to freeze the motion of rapidly moving objects, etc

Feathered Selection

An image editing technique where the boundary between two areas being adjusted is set to be broad

Fibonacci Sequence

A number sequence such that each number is the sum of the two preceding ones, starting from 0 and 1. A 2D compositional tiling pattern can also then be created with squares whose side lengths are successive Fibonacci numbers: 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, etc.

Fibonacci Spiral

An approximation of the “golden spiral” created by drawing circular arcs connecting the opposite corners of squares in a Fibonacci tiling pattern; that can be used in an image composition

Field Of View

The degrees of arc that is seen through a camera and lens system

File Types / Format

A digitally coded data set that summarises an image eg JPEG, TIFF, Raw, etc

File Extension

The suffix coding at the end of file name that specifies what kind of image file is being referred to eg JPEG, etc


A transparent optical material that is normally attached to the front of a lens to modify the transmitted light eg Clear, UV, Graduated, Pol, etc

Fill Flash / Lighting

Additional lighting used to partly add light to the shadows of an image

Fine Art Photography

Photography created in line with the vision of the photographer as an artist, using photography as a medium for creative expression


Software that controls a specific process that may be able to be updated

Fish Eye Lens

An ultra wide-angle lens that produces strong visual distortion, intended to create a wide panoramic or hemispherical image. Such lenses often give a 180 degree field of view.

First Curtain Sync

A camera function when a flash can be fired at the start of the shutter movement

Fixed Focal Length Lens

A non-zoom lens that has a defined, single focal length


A typically undesirable image artefact when light is scattered or flared in a lens system, often in response to a bright light


An accessory light source unit that creates a very brief burst of light

Flash Range

The distance that light from a flash unit can cover and still maintain a specific aperture exposure, at a set ISO

Flash Sync

The maximum shutter speed that can work with the firing of a flash unit

Flat Field Lens

A lens designed to focus in the same straight plane in the centre and all the way out to the edges eg better macro lenses

Flat Lighting

Lighting that does not produce a pleasing 3 D effect

Fluorescent Light

An artificial light source with a Kelvin temperature of approx 5000 K and thus one that can give a cooler, bluer tone to an image

Focal Length

The distance usually stated in millimetres between the optical centre of lens and the image sensor, when the subject is in focus

Focal Plane

The point behind a lens at which a camera lens can focus light onto

Focal Plane Shutter

A type of photographic shutter that is positioned immediately in front of the focal plane of the camera, that is, right in front of the image sensor


When light from a subject passing through a lens, produces a sharp edged image

Focus Breathing

A term that describes the (possible small) change in angle of view and / or focal length, that occurs as a result of adjusting the focusing distance of a lens

Focus Limiter

A switch on some telephoto or macro lenses that restricts the focus range

Focus Peaking

The ability of a camera to show on a displayed image where the focus is most defined

Focus Rail

A tripod accessory that can allow the whole camera and lens to be slowly moved; to very accurately, manually close focus

Focus Stacking

An editing process where multiple images, all with the same exposure but with slightly different focus points, can be combined to then produce a single image with extended DOF

Formatting a Data Card

The software process of preparing a flash memory device / card for data storage. It ‘cleans’ the card by removing previously existing data on the card ready for reuse and sets up that card for use in a new device.

Format of an Image ie Portrait or Landscape, etc

The proportions of the horizontal and vertical dimensions of a digital file or a display or a print. Portrait format has a longer height to its width eg 3:2, etc while a landscape format is the opposite eg 2:3, and others.

4 K Video

A high definition (HD) video format that has approximately four times the resolution of standard 1080 px (in height) video frame

FPS / fps

Frames Per Second = the maximum number of consecutive images able to be created per second by a camera


The composition elements in a scene that concentrate the viewer’s eyes on the main subject


An image aberration due to the inability of a lens to focus all wavelengths of light to the same point

Front Curtain Sync

A camera shutter function where a flash is made to fire at the start of the shutter movement (added)

Front Focusing

When a lens supposedly correctly focused, is actually focusing slightly in front of the intended focus point

FTZ Adaptor

A DSLR lens to mirrorless body adaptor for Nikon Z series camera bodies

Full Frame = FF

A camera that has an image sensor approximately equal in size to the traditional 35 mm film negative dimensions = 24 mm x 36 mm

Full Frame Equivalent

The effective lens field of view / apparent focal length of a lens when compared to a 35 mm sized sensor format

F / f Stop

A camera setting that specifies the aperture of the lens on a particular photograph. It is represented using f numbers.




Gain (ISO setting)

The electronic magnification of the light intensity signal being processed from an image sensor. Similar to changing the ISO rating with film.


A value that defines the relationship between a pixel's numerical value and its actual luminance. Without the correct gamma, shades captured by digital cameras wouldn't appear on a standard display monitor, as they did to our eyes.


The range of colours being managed


Gear Acquisition Syndrome = a colloquium for never having enough gear

G Lenses

Sony lenses of higher quality

GM Lenses

Sony lenses of the highest (Master) quality

Gigabyte (GB)

A unit of digital information equal to 1,024 Megabytes (MB)

Gimbal Head

A type of tripod head that allows good balance of the weight of a camera and often a heavy telephoto lens; so that it all can be moved effortlessly, both vertically and horizontally


A colloquium for a lens

Gloss Paper

A very reflective in appearance style of photographic printing paper


An object placed inside or in front of a light source to control the shape of the emitted light and its shadow

Golden Hours

The times of day around sunrise and sunset when the ambient lighting appears warmer

Golden Ratio / Spiral

A logarithmic spiral that can be used to create pleasing compositions whose growth factor is φ, the golden ratio. A golden spiral pattern then gets wider (or further from its origin) by a factor of φ for each 1/4 turn it makes.


Graininess refers to the amount of granular or sand-like appearance found in an image. Grain is a film photography term and its digital counterpart is “noise”; though the two terms are sometimes used interchangeably in digital photography.

Grab Shot

An image that is typically created quickly and therefore often appears to lack much artistic merit

Grad Filter

A semi opaque filter whose optical density varies across the filter

Grams per m²

A measure of the weight and often thickness of paper used for printing

Grey Card

A middle grey coloured reference card, typically used together with a reflective light meter, as a way to try to produce consistent image exposure and/or colour in photography

Grey Market

Refers to the trade of a commodity through distribution channels that are not authorized in that country by the original manufacturer

Grey Scale

A series of regularly spaced tones ranging from black to white through intermediate shades of grey

Guide Number (GN)

Indicates the maximum light output of an electronic flash. The GN can be used to work out the required aperture or the flash to subject distance, by dividing either into the GN.




Hand Held

An exposure taken without the aid of additional camera support

Hard Light

A light source that produces very sharp edged shadows


An image editing outcome that describes the false glow that’s created around the edges of objects when they’ve been over-sharpened

HDR = High Dynamic Range

A digital imaging technique where a series of identical pictures of a scene are taken at different exposures (usually shutter speeds) and then combined into the one image


A purpose made construction, to conceal from a photographic subject, usually an animal; in order to get closer than would normally be possible when the photographer is in full view

High Key

An image with predominantly brighter tones

High ISO Noise Reduction

Software applied in camera to automatically reduce possible unwanted digital noise, that can result from using high eg 800+ ISOs

High Resolution

A camera digital sensor capable of producing very high pixel counts per mm of the sensor or a high number of pixels per inch of a displayed image

High Speed Flash Sync

A camera and flash gun combination that can successfully trigger a flash of light at shutter speeds above 1/250 second


The brightest, usually whitest areas of an image


A graph that provides an instant guide to the contrast and exposure of a picture. It maps the distribution of tones, from the darkest on the left to the brightest on the right. Can be a combined RGB or all 3 channels.

Hot Shoe

An accessory shoe usually on the top of a camera, with an electrical contact, for the mounting and connecting of a flash gun


Another term for a specific colour

Hyperfocal Distance

The closest distance at which a lens can be focused while keeping objects at infinity, acceptably sharp





In Body Image Stabilisation = an in camera set of technology that can reduce camera and lens motion blur


Any two dimensional figure such as a map, a graph, a pie chart, a painting, banner or photograph

Image Format

The type of file eg JPEG, TIFF, etc being used for a digital file

Image Resolution

The number of pixels per edge of a digital file

Image Stabilisation (IS, VR, OIS, VC, etc)

Typically a moving lens, optical (OS) system for reducing the likelihood of lens + camera shake during an exposure; though IBIS is typically a system for moving the sensor, for the same reason

Image Workflow

The sequence of steps from managing the initial creation of an image though to its editing and display


The wow factor that an image may produce in a viewer

Incandescent Light

An artificial light source with a Kelvin temperature of approx 2500 K and thus one that can give a warmer, yellow tone to an image

Incident Light Metering

Using a hand held device to measure the light strength hitting a subject


At a limitless, far distance

Infra-red Photography

Using light at wavelengths below that of the visible spectrum, to record an image

Intentional Camera Movement

Using a slower than normal shutter speed to purposely create a semi-blurred image, due to camera + lens movement

Internal Focusing

A lens whose length does not change as the lens is focused

Inverse Square Law

In photography where the intensity of the light changes by one over the square of the distance change

IPS Monitor

An In Plane Switching display monitor which can show a wider gamut of colours


The variable opening in a lens


Image Stabilisation = Canon len’s system of optical image stabilisation


Strictly an abbreviation for the International Standards Organisation but in photography it refers to a number eg 100, 200, etc that summarises the sensor’s sensitivity / signal amplification or gain





An opening on a device for a cabled plug

Jac Paper

A brand of thin, double sided tape used for securing a print

Joystick Control

A switch that has multiple functions across 360º of its motion


Joint Photographic Experts Group = a standard method of image data compression used to reduce the file size of a digital image file

JPEG Compression

A level from 1 to 12 of software management to reduce the file size of a JPEG file by a data loss process


A review and ranking process of images based on pre-known criteria




K Mount

A lens mount, full frame system used by Pentax with the DA version applying to APS-C sensors


A unit of measurement of colour temperature

Key Light

The main light source illuminating a subject

Kit Lens

A good value, though typically only of average quality, lens




L Mount

A lens mount, full frame system used by Sigma, Panasonic, Leica mirrorless bodies

LAB Colour

A colour space that expresses colour as three values: L* for perceptual lightness, and a* and b* for the four colours of red, green, blue, and yellow

L Bracket

A tripod accessory bracket that can quickly allow a mounted camera to be rotated 90 degrees

Landscape Format

An image with the x / horizontal axis longer than the y / vertical axis eg 3:2, etc

Large Aperture

A lens opening that lets more light through eg f 2.8, etc


The capacity of an image recording device to show detail in both dark shadows and bright highlights for the same image

LCD Screen

A Liquid Crystal Display viewing device

Leaf Shutter

A camera shutter that utilizes a set of blades, or leaves, that open and close when the shutter button is actuated and is generally located directly behind the lens, or in some cases, inside the lens itself


A Light Emitting Diode is a semiconductor device that emits light when an electric current is passed through it eg to make a screen, etc

Leg Locks

Clamping devices used on the legs of a tripod


A brand of lens accessories that were initially designed to give a partial out of focus image

L Series Lenses

Canon’s top of the range ( L = luxury) category of lenses

Leading Line

A compositional design where the viewer’s eye is drawn through the image

Lens Breathing

Refers to the shifting of either the angle of view or the focal length of a lens when changing the len’s focus

Lens Elements

The individual optical components that make up the overall lens

Lens Equivalence

A way of describing the field of view that a lens offers by allowing for the effect of the sensor size. It is commonly referenced to a 35 mm film negative = full frame sensor size. A crop factor can then result.

Lens Hood

A front of lens accessory designed to reduce lens flare

Lens Mount

The specific mechanical + electrical coupling that different brands of camera require to successfully fit lenses to their bodies

Lens Roadmap

An advertising listing of what new lenses over time a manufacturer may release

Light Box

A small container designed to usually have translucent sides to give shadowless internal lighting

Light Metering

Measuring the brightness of light for a subject

Light Painting

Using a moving portable light source eg a torch, flash gun, etc to repeatedly illuminate a scene over a long exposure

Lightroom (Lr)

Image editing software made by Adobe that also has an image cataloguing focus

Lighting Ratio

The proportions of light coming from more than one source

Light Trails

A timed exposure image that shows the blur of a moving light source(s)

Li Ion

A cell / battery that contains Lithium and that is usually rechargeable

Line Type Focus Sensors

A basic, single line AF point that can detect contrast only in one dimension ie horizontally or vertically

Linear Polariser

An older design of polarising filter that if used with a DSLR camera could result in light metering errors (ref a Circular Polariser filter)

Live View

A camera mode which allows the photographer to view the photographic sensor output on the camera’s LCD screen, in almost real time

Long Exposure

A camera setting where the shutter is opened for a long period eg > 1 second

Long Exposure Noise Reduction

An in camera software JPEG process where the potential adverse sensor noise created during a long exposure is reduced

Lossless Compression

An image editing software process where image data is not lost when an image file is saved eg Raw, TIFF, etc

Lossy Compression

An image editing software process where image data is lost when an image file is saved eg JPEG, etc

Low Key

An image with predominantly darker tones

Low Resolution

Used to describe a screen, piece of optical equipment or a digital file that does not produce a very clear image, or of the image itself


A measure of luminous flux ie the total amount of light emitted in all directions

Luminance Value

The measurable quality of light that most closely corresponds to brightness with pure black = 0 and bright white = 255, with in between values


A unit of measurement of the total amount of light that falls on a surface


Named after Lempel, Ziv and Welch (LZW) and is a universal, lossless data compression algorithm that can be used when saving a TIFF file





A style of image creation that historically meant that the subject appeared at least life size on a 35 mm film negative; but is now best thought of as a very up close image. Others may debate this meaning.

Magnification Ratio

The maximum capacity of a lens to produce an image in proportion to the actual size of the subject

Manual Focus

A lens that can be focused by hand

Manual Metering / Exposure

Using the camera’s or a hand held light meter to then select the preferred shutter speed and the aperture combination (at a set ISO) to create the desired exposure. The opposite of an auto light metering exposure.

Marching Ants

An in camera or image editing software setting where the perimeter of an over or an under exposed image area(s); is highlighted


A print that has been attached to a backing medium eg cardboard, etc

Matt Paper

Heavy cardboard that is usually cut to overlay a displayed print

Matrix Metering / Evaluative Metering

The in camera light metering system that samples multiple zones of the intended image’s brightness and mostly also allows for both the very bright and the very dark components of the intended image. Ref also centre weighted and spot light metering.

Maximum Aperture

The largest / widest lens opening as measured in f stops

Medium Format

Digital cameras that record images on a sensor larger than 24 mm × 36 mm (called full-frame), but smaller than sensors of 100 mm × 130 mm; which is considered to be large format photography

Megabyte (MB)

A measure of file size where 1 MB = 1024 kilobytes = 1,048,576 bytes

Megapixel (Mpx)

A unit of graphic resolution equivalent to approximately one million or (strictly) 1,048,576 (220 ) pixels

Memory Card

A hardware device where a digital file is stored that is typically removable from a camera, etc


Data that provide information about other data eg camera settings, etc for a specific image

Metallic Paper

Extremely reflective paper used for photo printing

Metering Modes

The in camera software that determines how the incoming light from a subject is measured, at a set ISO

Micro Focusing

The capacity of some camera models to electrically adjust, specific fine autofocusing control of specific lenses to a camera body

Micro Four Thirds (MFT)

A camera system based on a sensor approximately half the size of a full frame sensor


All luminance values that are not dark or light therefore at approx 125 on the 0 to 255 tonal range

Milliamp Hour

mAhr = a measure of the electrical storage capacity of a cell / battery

Minimum Aperture

The smallest / narrowest opening that a lens can create eg f 22, etc

Mirror Lens

A telephoto lens that uses mirrors rather than just lenses to focus light

Mirrorless = ML (MILC)

A Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera or simply Mirror Less camera is a camera featuring a single, removable lens and a digital display. The camera does not have a reflex mirror or an optical viewfinder like a digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) camera.

Mirror Lockup

The capacity of some DSLR cameras to temporally secure the reflex mirror in a raised position, to then minimise the potential for unwanted camera vibrations from a moving mirror during slow shutter speeds.

Mirror Slap

The internal vibration that can be created in a DSLR body that is particularly evident at moderately slow shutter speeds eg 1/15 sec, etc


Minimum focus distance = how close to a subject a lens can focus


Referring to how the exposure is to be set in a camera eg aperture priority, shutter priority, landscape, etc

Modelling Light

A continuous light source located in proximity to a flash tube / gun. The purpose of a modelling light is to allow a photographer to visually have a sense of the lighting effect that the flash, when it fires, will create.

Moire Patterns

Occur when a scene or an object that is being photographed contains fine, repetitive details that then exceed the sensor’s resolution. As a result the camera produces strange looking wavy patterns on the image.


An image viewing device usually placed on a desktop


A powerful flash unit that is typically mains powered


An image displaying a single colour or different shades of a single colour. Not to be confused with a black and white image.


A camera support with only one leg, that is typically extendable

Motion Blur

An image that typically shows purposeful streaking or blurring of an object in motion, for a visual effect.

MTF Chart / Graph

The Modulation Transfer Function is a measurement of the optical performance potential of a lens. A MTF chart plots the contrast and resolution of a lens from the centre to its edges against a "perfect" lens that would transmit 100% of the light that passes through it.


An image of a person taken perpendicular to the person looking directly at the camera with flat lighting. Slang also for a police image of a suspect.


Polymer coatings applied to optical components eg filters, etc to minimise stray reflections

Multiple Exposures

An image typically created from two or more images often of the same subject. Can also refer to exposure bracketing.

Multipoint Auto Focus

A camera function where several required image focus points can be selected and the camera attempts to have most of these approx in focus




Natural Light

Illumination that is not man made

Nature Image

Check carefully with the organisers of any competition being entered on this topic; as this term has very specific expectations.

ND Filter

Neutral Density. A semitransparent optical material that usually is attached to the front of a lens to cut back the brightness of light entering the lens.

Negative Film

A film based material usually used to make an analogue print

Negative Space

Mostly a neutral or sometimes a contrasting background in an image, to draw attention to the main subject

Nifty Fifty

A fixed 50 mm lens that typically has an aperture of approx f 1.8


Nickel Metal Hydride cell / battery that contains nickel, etc and that is usually rechargeable


Appears as random speckles / grain on an otherwise smooth surface and typically can significantly degrade digital image quality

Noise Reduction

A software step(s) designed to minimise the presence of digital noise when an image is created in the camera or in its post-production




Open Flash

A method of taking flashlight pictures by leaving the camera shutter open for an extended time period while the flash lamp is flashed


Optical Stabilisation = in lens, image stabilisation eg in Sigma lenses, etc

OVF = Optical View Finder

An image created by a DSLR as seen by the user’s eye, that comes through the lens, then off a reflex mirror and then a penta prism / mirror

Optical Low Pass Filter = OLPF

Also referred to as an Anti-Aliasing (AA) filter. This filter is built into many digital cameras and is located directly in front of the image sensor to reduce the effects of aliasing and moiré; but it typically also reduces image resolution.

Optical Resolution

The capacity of a lens system to separate two lines that are very close together OR the capacity of an image sensor in megapixels

Optical Zoom

A lens system that can have its focal length varied

Over Exposed

An image that is too bright and has very little detail in the bright image areas and also may have clipped highlight tones

Over Processed

A manipulated image file that looks unnatural due to too extensive use of editing software

Over Sharpened

An image that has false looking and haloed edges around the edges of objects in the scene




P Mode = Program

A camera setting where the scene’s required aperture, shutter speed and ISO for a scene are all determined automatically


An effect where the image seen in the viewfinder is not framed the same as the image seen through the lens; because the viewfinder is in a slightly different position to the lens

Pan and Tilt Head

A tripod mounting attachment where the camera may be rotated in either a horizontal plane or in a vertical plane by two separate fixtures

Pancake Lens

A very compact, short focal length lens


An image exposure technique where a slower shutter speed is used as the camera is swivelled horizontally from a fixed position


An image with an extended horizontal axis dimension. Often made by combining multiple images across a broad scene.

Parafocal Lens

A lens that remains in focus even as the len’s focal length changes


A Projected Digital Image display, though using a monitor also applies

Pearl Paper

A grade of photographic paper in between satin and gloss in appearance


A five-sided reflecting prism used in DSLR cameras to deviate a beam of light by 90°


The sense of depth or spatial relationship between objects in a photo

Phase Detection Autofocus

The auto focusing system used in viewfinder shooting on DSLR cameras


Storytelling pictures usually of people doing things where the activity itself is the main theme. Note that this definition can vary.


Intentionally trying to be is someone else’s photo capture image

Photo Book

A bound collection of printed images

Photo Editing

Using software to affect the appearance of a digital image file


Images made at very high magnification by using a microscope

Photo Scanner

A device that uses light to create an image file from a print, negative or slide, etc

Photoshop = Ps

An Adobe brand of image editing software

Photo Workshop

A training activity where a leader shares their photographic knowledge


Images of places, people, animals, plants or things. Note that this definition can vary.

Pincushion Distortion

A len’s aberration that causes straight edges to bow inwards, giving a flattened cushion like image appearance. This type of distortion is commonly seen with telephoto lenses.

Pinhole Camera

A simple camera without a lens but with a tiny hole / aperture. Light from a scene passes through the hole and projects an inverted image on the opposite side of the box, which is known as the camera obscura effect.

Pixel (p / px)

A picture element that is the smallest item of information in an image. Pixels are arranged in a 2-dimensional grid, represented using squares.


An image in which the individual pixels are visible to the naked eye and thus will appear blurry and blocky

Pixel Peeper

A person typically more interested in debating subjective image quality rather than enjoying the craft of photography

Pixel Shifting

A method for producing a higher resolution image by taking several images and after each such capture, allowing movement / shifting of the sensor to a new position; so that each pixel in an image is created by combining data from four or eight photosites, ref Sony and Pentax, etc


An image editing software addition that is designed to do a specific set of changes to an image file

Point And Shoot

A very basic camera that can create an image very simply

Polarising Filter

A semi-transparent pair of optical materials placed in front of a camera lens in order to darken skies, manage reflections, or suppress glare from surfaces


A collection of images

Portrait Framing

An image that has a longer vertical dimension than its horizontal length


The look that a usually a human subject presents to the camera

Post Production / Editing

Changes intentionally made to an image file to create an intended, more pleasing image


Pixels Per Inch refers to the display resolution ie how many individual pixels are displayed in one inch of a digital image

Predictive Autofocus

A camera body feature that attempts to track image focus for a moving subject. Different brands may use different terms for this feature.


When a lens has been set and locked to a required focus point


A series of camera control functions that have been predetermined before an image is recorded eg Night-scene, etc OR a series of image editing steps that also have been predetermined

Primary Colours

The colours of red, green and blue if considering light radiation. Note that when considering pigments, there is a different terminology.

Prime Lens

A lens with a fixed, single focal length


An image file that has been altered

Program Mode

A camera image capture function where most / all image creation features are automatically controlled by the camera eg Av, Tv, ISO, etc

ProPhoto RGB

The default colour space in Lightroom


Photographic Society of America


Photographic Society of Queensland


Photoshop Document is an image file format that can be created in Photoshop that allows the image’s layer history to be kept




Quick Release Plate

A bracket between the base of a camera body and the top of a tripod that allows rapid fixture / disconnection





Random Access Memory is the component of a computer in which information can be stored or accessed directly by the microprocessor


A way of focusing usually based on triangulation

Raw Files

An image file that has not yet been processed

Raw Converter

Image editing software that processes a Raw file into a digital file that can then be displayed

Read Speed

The capacity of a digital device to access data at a rate per second

Rear Curtain Sync

A camera shutter function where a flash is made to fire at the end of the shutter movement

Record Shot

An image that typically lacks much creativity

Rectilinear Lens

A kind of lens design specially corrected for distortion so that straight lines are reproduced accurately, even on the margins of the image

Recycling Time

The time in seconds required for a flash to fully recharge


The appearance of red eyes in photos of people occurs when the camera flash (or some other bright light source) is reflected from the subject’s retina


A shiny object used to bounce light onto the subject

Reflective Light Metering

The light meter in a camera that measures the light being bounced off the subject back into the camera

Reflex Mirror

The moveable mirror in a DSLR camera body that allows an optical viewfinder to see through the lens


The bending of light as it passes from one optical material into another. Also refers to the blurriness that can appear at the edges of an image created using smaller apertures eg f 16, etc.

Refresh Rate

The number of times per second (ie Hertz / Hz) that a display monitor updates its image


An image composition technique where multiple, similar image elements are present

Rembrandt Lighting

A lighting technique that is characterized by an illuminated triangle under the eye of the subject; on the less illuminated side of the face

Remote Shutter Release / Trigger

A camera body accessory that allows the camera shutter to be fired remotely from the usual shutter release control


The capacity of an optical system to separate lines that are very close together. Also called the resolving power.


An image editing process where the horizontal and vertical sizes of a file are changed; given a set PPI

RF Mount Adaptor

A lens to body component that allows Canon EF series lenses to be used on a Canon mirrorless camera body


A kind of colour space that defines colours in terms of the amounts of red, green and blue lighting components; with black defined as zero amount of the components and white is the maximum amounts of the components

Rim Lighting

A lighting technique that puts light around the edges of a subject usually from a source behind the subject

Ring Light

A circular lighting device that evenly illuminates the subject eg of a close-up scene or for a portrait

Rule Of Odds

An image composition technique where 3 or 5 or 7, etc similar image elements are present

Rule Of Thirds

An image composition technique where the image is thought to consist of 9 equal sized segments, formed by using 3 vertical and 3 horizontal lines. Key image elements are then attempted to be positioned at the intersection(s) of these lines.

Rule Of Symmetry

An image composition technique where the image often has two parts with image elements that mirror each other




Satin Paper

A low lustre in appearance style of photographic printing paper


The intensity of a hue / colour


Showing a recognizable feature(s) eg a person, etc in an image to allow the viewer to assess how big / small the remaining image elements are


An image that shows an extensive view of a scene eg landscape, seascape, streetscape, cloudscape, waterscape, etc. Note that this definition can vary.


An optical device that can create a digital file from a print, negative, etc

Scene Exposure Modes

A fully automatic exposure setting where the shutter speed, aperture and ISO are all set by the camera. The camera can be also programmed to choose the preferred exposure settings to fit various types of scenes eg portrait, night scene, fireworks, etc.


A semi-transparent light material that is designed to soften light

SD Card

A Secure Digital format of a memory card for the electronic storage of photos, etc

Second Curtain Sync

A camera function when a flash can be fired at the end of the shutter movement

Secondary Colours

Radiant lit colours that are the result of mixing equal parts of any two primary colours

Selective Focus

Intentionally focusing on a specific part of an image


An image of the photographer taken by that person that usually has little artistic merit

Self Portrait

An image of the photographer taken by that person that usually has artistic merit

Self Timer

A camera function where the shutter only opens some seconds after the shutter is initiated


The device in a digital camera that converts the light entering the camera through the lens and turns it into a digital image

Sensor Clean

An attempt to remove small foreign particles that are adhering to a sensor

Semi Auto Metering

A camera exposure setting where with one or two of the following parameters: shutter speed, aperture, ISO are set; then the camera will select the required other variable(s)

Sensor Size

The dimensions of a sensor in a digital camera eg FF, APS-C, 4-3rds, etc

Sepia Tone

A brownish colour tone added to a black and white image

Servo Tracking Mode

A Canon camera function where the focus is set on a moving subject and the camera / lens attempts to maintain this focus


Semi-lit, darker parts of an image

Sharp Image

One that is well focused and with minimal camera or subject movement blur

Sharpening an Image File

A digital file software process where the contrast between adjacent pixels are made more defined

Shoot / Shot

A place to take photographs or the action of taking a photograph

Short Lighting

A portrait lighting pattern where the subject is lit from the side of their face that is farthest from the camera. The portion of the face that is most brightly lit is 'shorter' than if the light were positioned on the side of the face that is closest to the camera.


A camera component that by opening and closing allows a short period of light to enter

Shutter Lag

The very short time period between when pressing the shutter button and the image actually being taken

Shutter Priority Mode

A semi-auto camera light metering process where the user sets the shutter speed and usually the ISO, and the camera then sets the required aperture

Shutter Speed

The length of time, usually in fractions of a second, that the shutter is open

Silent Shooting Mode

A DSLR Canon camera function where the return of the reflex mirror is dampened; to reduce audible noise and vibration


An image that is strongly backlit and thus the key subject is mostly in shadow with a strong outline

Skylight Filter

(1A, 1B, 1C)

A lens front optical medium designed to reduce the possible bluish cast of daylight and produce a warmer picture tone

Slave Unit

An electronic device to trigger a flash that is remote from the camera

Slow Lens

A lens that has a quite large, minimum aperture eg f 5.6, etc

Slow Speed Flash Sync

When the flash is fired as part of a long shutter exposure of typically several seconds; with the camera on a tripod

Small Aperture

A very limited / narrow lens opening eg f 16, etc

Social Documentary

An image style that attempts to show what the world looks like, with a social and / or environmental focus. Note that this definition can vary.

Soft Box

An enclosure with its reflective interior designed to fit around an artificial light source to intensify the light output and project it through its only means of escape onto a front diffusion screen

Soft Image

Typically describing an image that does not show sufficient in focus, of the key subject

Soft Light

A light that does not cast shadows onto the subject

S Mode

Can mean a Shutter priority exposure mode OR a Sports exposure mode


The colours of light

Spirit Level

A visual device to check the horizontal alignment of an object / camera

Sports Mode

A fully auto camera exposure mode that has priority for higher shutter speeds

Spot Focusing

A camera setting where the intended focus zone is a very narrow point

Spot Light Metering

A camera setting where the light metering is only measured at a very narrow point / zone

Spray and Pray

Taking multiple, similar images per second, usually at a high shutter speed; hoping that at least one image will give the intended result


A brand of colour management accessories


A tube or similar object that fits over a studio light or flash to allow the photographer to control the direction and radius of the light beam

Star Burst Effect

Caused by a narrow point of light entering a lens and as a result diffracting at very small apertures eg f 16, etc; to produce lines of light on the image from that light source


The perceived message that an image can create when it is viewed

Square Filter

A rectangular (not always square) mostly transparent optical material that is usually attached by an accessory frame to the front of a lens; made by Cokin, Lee, etc


A very commonly used colour space


A system used in lenses or camera bodies to attempt to minimise lens / camera movement

Standard Prime Lens

A 50 mm, fixed focal length lens usually with a large maximum aperture eg f 1.8, etc

Standard Zoom Lens

A shorter focal length range lens that has a semi-wide to a very short telephoto zoom range and typically not with a large maximum aperture

Step Down Ring

A double threaded lens filter attachment that typically allows a larger diameter filter to be used on a smaller diameter lens front

Still Life

Images of inanimate subjects in a static state. Note that this definition can vary.

STM Lenses

A Canon brand of lenses that have very smooth and silent focusing using a len’s based Stepper Technology “Motor”; useful for video shots

Stock Photography

Images taken for advertising, etc purposes that can licenced


A change in aperture size that results in a halving or a doubling of the light that can enter a lens

Street Photography

A genre of photography that records everyday life in a public place eg candid pictures of strangers, often without their knowledge


An artificial light source that can pulse its output in a very short burst(s)


An internal place where formal portraits can be created with full control of the lighting

Studio Backdrop

Typically a very long and wide, rolled material used to give a non distracting background; often for portrait photography


The look of an image often following a consistent pattern

Subject Matter

The kind of object(s) that have been photographed

Sunny 16 Rule

An exposure guideline for a subject in direct sunlight on a sunny day: set the aperture to f 16 and the shutter speed to the reciprocal of the ISO setting

Superzoom Lens

A multifocal lens that has a very wide eg 10+ times, zoom range

Sync Lead

The electrical lead that allows a flash gun to be used off camera

Sync Speed

The highest shutter speed at which the camera can use flash ie the max speed at which there is an instant during which the shutter is 100% open




Tethered Shooting

Taking photos, usually with a tripod mounted camera, that is connected to a computer / monitor; so that the images can be immediately seen on a large screen


The skills that typically follow a pattern, that are used to create images


A longer focal length lens eg 200 mm or larger

Tele-Converter / Extender Lens

An accessory lens that when used between a lens and a camera body increases the focal length of the overall len’s system eg 1.4x, etc

Tertiary Colours

A colour which is a 25:75 or a 75:25 combination of a primary and a secondary colour

Thumbnail View

A very small dimensioned image

TIFF / TIF Files

Tag Image File Format, abbreviated TIFF or TIF, is a computer file format for storing digital images that involves a lossless compression

Tilt Shift Lens

Also called a perspective control lens, it is a lens whose optics can be tilted and/or shifted in relation to the image sensor so that the lens plane need no longer be parallel to the image plane

Timed Exposure

A very long exposure where the shutter is kept open for a long period

Tonal Range

The difference in Exposure Values = Stops between the darkest and lightest tones in an image

Tone Compression / Mapping

An image editing software process which compresses the tonal values of a high dynamic range image(s), into a lower range of brightness in the resulting single image

TTL Metering

Through The Lens exposure control refers to the lens aperture closing at the instant that an image is created OR can also refer to the detailed electrical controls between a camera’s light meter and a flash gun


A semi-transparent, optical material eg used in a diffuser, scrim, etc


A small piece of photographic film with a frame around it, which can be projected onto a screen so that you can see the picture eg a 35 mm slide


A camera / flash accessory that allows the shutter / flash to be fired remotely


A three legged support device usually for a camera

Tripod Plate

The accessory fixture that is connected between a tripod and a camera


A display of three related images

Tungsten Light

An artificial, incandescent light with a colour temp of approx 3200 K

Tv / TV Mode

A semi-auto, camera light metering setting where the user sets the shutter speed (with a set ISO) and the camera’s light meter then determines the required len’s aperture for a correct exposure




Under Exposed

An image that is too dark and has very little detail in the shadows and also may have clipped shadow tones


To transfer digital files


To increase the image resolution in PPI

USB / Port

A Universal Serial Bus, is a physical connection protocol between two digital devices; with the port being the socket end

USM Lenses

Ultra Sonic Motor lenses as used by Canon that are meant to autofocus faster

UV Filter

A lens front optical medium designed to remove the near invisible Ultra Violet (UV) light from sunlight; but a filter that is now often just used to help protect the front of a lens




Variable Aperture Lens

A zoom lens whose maximum aperture opening changes at the len’s focal length changes


Vibration Control = Tamron len’s system of optical image stabilisation


Creating movie files


The part of a camera where the intended image is displayed to an eye and is either optical as in a DSLR, or electronic as is ML camera bodies


An image editing software tool that can increase the intensity of the more muted colours in an image, while leaving saturated colours alone


Typically a darker border at the periphery of an image that may be an inherent lens abnormality or intentionally applied in image editing

Visible Light

The wavelengths of light from 380 to 700 nanometres that the unaided human eye can see


Vibration Reduction = Nikon len’s system of optical image stabilisation




Warm Image Tone

An image that appears redder to orange in tone


A superimposed image, logo, or text placed over an image as a method of identifying the image's creator / copyright

Water Proof

In relation to a camera, one that is designed to be used underwater and is completely sealed, to a set depth / pressure

Weather Sealing

A camera or lens set of features that are designed to reduce moisture ingress into the object

White Balance

WB = a camera or image editing setting that attempts to make image colours look more natural

Wide Aperture

A lens setting that allows a lot of light to pass through the lens eg f 2, etc

Wide Angle Lens

One that generally has a true focal length of between 24 mm – 35 mm

Wide Open

A lens set to its maximum / widest aperture opening

Wildlife Image

A genre of photography concerned with documenting various forms of non-domesticated animals in their natural habitat. Note that this definition can vary.


The usual sequence of image editing steps used


Usually a practical training session to transfer knowledge and skills

Write Speed

How quickly a memory card can actually record data


What You See Is What You Get = what you see on the screen is what you will get when you print that digital file; if certain factors are controlled


X - Y


X Sync Speed

The highest shutter speed at which the camera can use flash ie the max speed at which there is an instant during which the shutter is 100% open




Z Mount

An interchangeable lens mount developed by Nikon for its full-frame mirrorless (ML) digital cameras

Zone System

A system to map the various tonal regions of objects in any given scene, to enable the photographer to reach the optimal exposure during the capture of the image, and then the editing and printing of the image file

Zoom Head

A flash gun that can focus its light output to a variable width beam

Zoom Lens

A lens that has a variable focal length

Zoom Lens Creep

A phenomenon in some zoom lenses where the focal length / angle of view of the lens can change when gravity is allowed to freely act on it

Zoom Ratio

The ratio of the shortest and longest focal length ranges of a zoom lens


Possible sources of further photographic term explanations:



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